The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) featured an ugly embrace of anti-immigrant politics from both President Trump and the attendees. As Dave Weigel wrote in the Washington Post, “At this year’s conference, in place of discussions of how to reach out to nonwhite voters, speakers, including Trump, spoke about keeping immigrants out.”
During his CPAC speech, President Trump falsely blamed Democrats for Congress’s ongoing failure to resolve Dreamers’ status, while failing to acknowledge that he ended DACA, has rejected five bipartisan compromises on the table, and is holding Dreamers’ futures hostage by seeking to trade their protections for a nativist wishlist of unrelated policies long pushed by the anti-immigrant movement. Trump also used the occasion to again deliver the “snake” poem – a succinct and ugly distillation of Trump’s worldview that immigrants are a venomous threat to America.
Other ugly immigration occurrences at CPAC included the jeering of conservative radio host Rick Ungar, who, as Weigel recapped, “was heckled by a Friday afternoon audience when he said that many Latino immigrants could, if given citizenship, become Republican voters. ‘As somebody who lived in Mexico for seven years of my life, Mexicans who are coming across this border have so much more in common with conservatives,’ said Ungar.”
In response to the CPAC discussion of immigration, the following is a statement from Juan Escalante, a DACA recipient and communications manager for America’s Voice:
Donald Trump, the man who wants a ‘bill of love’ for Dreamers, continues to promote his personal belief that immigrants are nothing but criminals coming into the United States. In the same tone that he insulted Mexican immigrants during his presidential campaign, Trump took to the CPAC stage to read the lyrics to the song “The Snake,” which he has repurposed as a vile attack on all hard-working immigrants.
As an immigrant and DACA beneficiary, the only snakes I see are the ones at the highest levels of government – the ones attacking immigrant families, refugees, and vulnerable communities across the country. Aspiring Americans – like my parents who own their own businesses, and the Dreamers, who play essential roles in the workforce – are working day in and day out to ensure that this great country, which we call home, continues to grow and prosper.
Furthermore, regardless of how many Tweets the President sends blaming Democrats about the current state of DACA negotiations, it is clear that Trump’s stance on immigration has not changed since he launched his presidential campaign. This means that he still sees all immigrants as criminals and that any purported willingness the Trump administration has to compromise on anything related to immigration or DACA is nothing but a big fat sham.
During CPAC, the Defend Our Dreams coalition projected “Dreamers Deserve Protection” on the hotel hosting the event and reminded members of Congress that, if they don’t stand on the right side of history; listen to their constituents; and protect Dreamers, voters will remember in November. See here for a video of the action.